Scallops are a delicate, slightly sweet-tasting seafood that don’t have an overbearing “slap you in the face” fishy taste. If you’re wondering what to serve with scallops, then keep reading for a list of delicious sides, everyone will enjoy.
21 best scallop side dishes
1. Rice pilaf
Rice pilaf cooked in chicken broth is a marvelous option with seared scallops. Be sure not to overcook the rice as you’ll get a soft textured side that’ll detract from the star of the dish.
Although most rice varieties will work fine, your best option for pilaf is to use basmati or jasmine. Not sure how these types of rice differ? Take a look at our comparison of jasmine and basmati rice here.
2. Butternut pumpkin
Butternut pumpkins bring lively orange color to the plate, and their sweet, nutty taste complements scallops magically.
You can roast, bake, boil, or microwave this vegetable. Find out more about what a butternut pumpkin tastes like and how to cook it here.
3. Warm fruit salsa
I love fruit for adding a fresh, vibrant color to the plate. I suggest this mango salsa recipe. Consider adding some more tropical goodness by including papaya; the sweet flavor pairs well with bacon-wrapped scallops that have plenty of salt.
4. Butter sauce
Butter seems so simple, but it does a delectable job of enhancing the hero ingredient as well as adding a lovely mouth feel to the meal. Although this isn’t the healthiest option on this list, it has to be one of our favorites. Try out this recipe for butter sauce or get our complete guide to sauces here.
Spaghetti is an exceptional side dish for scallops. There are loads of recipes for making a good spaghetti sauce too; I suggest choosing one that’s light and not too full in flavor.
Tip: If you want to make unbelievable homemade tomato sauce then take the tedious part of the job out of the equation. Instead, get your hands on a tomato press. Not sure which one is best? We've compiled a review of the best tomato presses you can buy for your money.
6. Mint chimichurri
Another superb option is to create a chimichurri sauce. The freshness of the basil will complement the scallops. If you don’t enjoy mint, you may want to use an alternative to such as parsley or for more flavor and aroma, cilantro. Check out our best substitutes for mint here.
7. Roast potatoes
I find roast potatoes make almost any dish better – scallops are no exception. If you want an indulgent, flavor-packed side dish, then try these duck fat roasted potatoes. You’ll never look at the boiled version in the same way after eating these.
You may know these as Jerusalem artichokes; whatever you call them, they're a useful side for scallops. Peel and roast them at 350°F for 45 minutes or until tender. Sunchokes are also a good option for pureeing. Boil until soft then blend in a food processor until smooth.
9. Wilted Swiss chard
Swiss chard can be mildly bitter, so it’s best to saute the leaves before eating to help dull the bitterness. Here’s a simple recipe for cooking Swiss chard.
10. Artichoke hearts
Although you can use any part of the artichoke for eating, we suggest the prized heart for its lovely soft texture. You could also roast the entire artichoke as it will plate up beautifully next to the scallops.
If you're new to this unique looking vegetable, then check out our artichoke guide which explains their flavor and how to cook them.
11. Brussels sprouts
This vegetable is a simple choice but full of flavor. There’s no need to make this option too fancy. Boil a pot of Brussels sprouts until tender then sauté them for a few minutes with olive oil and some chili flakes. Serve with a sprinkle of sea salt.
12. Pea puree
Pea puree is one of those sides that should be used more by cooks. Boil the peas until tender, then strain and finally pop them in a blender to process. Once the texture of the puree is smooth, you can add it to a piping bag and make a fancy looking arrangement on the plate - pure artwork!
Couscous provides a very mild flavor to the plate and is terrific combined with a hit of pomegranate. View this page for a tasty couscous recipe.
One of my favorite combination of ingredients is scallops and garlic. Add the garlic to a creamy sauce, and you can’t lose. If you want to make a statement, then roast elephant garlic. They're like the standard variety on steroids. However, the taste is much more subtle and won't outshine the scallops.
Rapini is a lesser-known vegetable in the culinary world. If you use rapini be sure to boil it first to reduce the bitterness then saute before serving. Get the full rundown on how to cook rapini here.
16. Parsnip puree
Parsnip puree is another side that should be used more by cooks. You’ll need to boil your parsnips until tender, then strain and pop them in a blender and process. Once the texture of the puree is smooth, you can add it to a piping bag and make artistic streaks or one big blob on the plate. Your guests eat with their eyes, so before they’ve taken a bite, they’ll be savoring your meal.
If you love fancy plating up and modern cooking techniques then get our low-down on some useful molecular gastronomy techniques.
17. Brown butter polenta
Polenta is popular in Italian cooking, and its main ingredient is maize. A delicious option when smoked with browned butter.
18. Snap peas and pancetta
The freshness of in-season peas with a few finely sliced pieces of pancetta makes sense. Try it and see what you think.
19. Garden salad
Toss some fresh salad vegetables into a bowl to create a quick side to accompany your scallops. Add some finely sliced fennel to add a hint of anise to the dish and to elevate the fresh taste.
20. Chorizo and corn
Chorizo and corn pair beautifully with scallops. Cut thin pieces of chorizo and fry them with the corn kernels before serving. Avoid serving whole chorizos as they’ll overwhelm the scallops on the plate. If you don't have any chorizo, consider using old world pepperoni for something different.
Blanch asparagus for 1-3 minutes until they soften a little then serve with a sprinkle of salt. A creamy mayonnaise would be a great addition. Find out more about cooking asparagus here.
1-minute video: scallop side dishes
Final words on scallops
Scallops are a hugely popular dish as both an entree and a main. I think a big reason diners love them is due to their mild flavor without the pungent fish taste that usually comes with seafood.
The fact that they’re delicate means you need to choose a side dish for scallops wisely. Although the occasional potent tasting ingredient will work with scallops, it’s usually best to err on the side of caution.
Sometimes less is more.
A simple bowl of ziti pasta or fresh vegetables that are crisp and in-season will combine remarkably well with scallops. They’ll allow the shellfish to feature on the plate and keep your family and friends coming back for more.
What do you serve with scallops? Please let us know in the comments below.